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Yuma Book Fair sets stage for local writers
- Art Wilson
- Bev Ribaudo
- CJ Beuhler
- Dan Rasp
- Debbie Lee (LaRose)
- Joanne Taylor Moore
- Kevin Draper
- Melissa Stevens
A treasure trove of local writers will converge at the Yuma Book Fair on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Meeting Room A at the Yuma Main Library, 2951 S. 21st Drive.
This free community event hosted by Friends of Yuma County Library provides a stage for local authors to talk about their writing and publishing experiences and to sign and sell their books, says Sarah Wisdom, community relations manager for the library district.
“All genres will be represented, from children's books to mysteries to romance,” she says.
Thirteen to 20 local authors are expected to participate, says John Coultas, event organizer and secretary of Friends of Yuma County Library. The term “local authors,” he explains, includes writers from Yuma County and Imperial County as well as winter residents.
Authors will have individual tables where they will market their books. In addition, each will have the opportunity to speak and/or read from their writings for 15 minutes at the podium.
Refreshments will be provided. The Book Fair will give attendees the chance to buy books and meet the authors as well as to meet other people in the community, Wisdom says.
Some local authors write about the Yuma area, so attendees will also have the opportunity to learn more about Yuma history, geography and other information, she adds.
Coultas, a writer himself and a member of the Yuma Writers Group that meets regularly at the library, says the Book Fair is intended to show people in the community the value in local authorship. “It's quality writing,” he says, pointing out that three members of his writing group have had their books published.
Debbie Lee LaRose, who goes by the pen name Debbie Lee, is one of them. Her contemporary romance novel, “The Journey to Jordan,” was published by Black Opal Books in November, and she will sign copies for sale at the Book Fair.
The story centers on protagonist Jordan Shaw, who is guarding a secret that if discovered will destroy everything she's worked so hard to gain.
She literally falls for her love interest, Luke Kincaid, when he wanders into her flower shop to buy a birthday gift for his mother, and Jordan tumbles from a ladder into his arms.
A romance ensues, but conflicts emerge that threaten the relationship.
The novel was oddly inspired, LaRose says. “We happened to be discussing something one Saturday in our writers group about a journal, and that was the seed. Then on my way home, it began to take form.
“It's almost like giving birth — you have to just get (those ideas) down, to just get it out, and that's how this book was. I had to get home and within 45 minutes, I had both characters' names, the bare-bones plot, the last sentence of the book and the title.”
But the next stage did not come so easily. “You have to kind of sit with your characters and almost let them tell you what they're like — about their personality or their quirks.”
She wrote the book over the span of a year, mostly in the evenings after work. During that time, she bounced ideas off other group members, solicited their critiques and revised the story according to some of their comments.
Then another published writer from her group, Pinkie Paranya, referred LaRose to a publisher who notified her three weeks later by email that it would publish her book.
“I was at work, and I printed the email and ran around to my good friends and said, ‘Look! Look! Look! I was so excited.”
Having succeeded at writing the book and getting it published, she is now faced with the task of putting herself out in public to market it. “It's not really scary, but it's a whole other job that I had no idea about. I'm surprised at the amount of business work it takes to market books.”
People who enjoy feel-good stories will enjoy her book, but if they're looking for sex scenes, they will have to read “Fifty Shades of Grey” and not her book, she says.
“Mine has comedy, romance, suspense — and it's passionate — but your junior higher or grandma could read it, too.”
She credits God for her book's success and includes a Bible verse in each autographed copy. Standard size, soft cover copies of the book cost $14 each and are available at her book signings (see www.debbieleebooks.com for schedule) and at blackopalbooks.com and Amazon.com. E-book versions are available for $2.99 each.
Coultas says the Book Fair should help people realize there are very talented writers in the community. “People buy books from their same favorite authors on the New York Times Best Sellers list. It's kind of like driving down the road and stopping at McDonald's because it's familiar and they know it's good.”
But just as Chile Pepper gives Yuma a distinct flavor, so do authors with fresh new stories and characters. And some of those authors will be at the Book Fair with their books in hand and ready to meet the public.
Wisdom says: “We hope the Book Fair will become an annual event. This is kind of the pilot program. There is no fee for entrance, but we encourage people to bring their checkbooks and to hopefully buy some books.”
For more information, call the Yuma Main Library at 782-1871 or John Coultas at 783-5199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.